Cakes/ Chocolate/ Dessert/ no mixer

My Favorite Chocolate Birthday Cake

May 19, 2022

This is the ultimate chocolate birthday cake that both kids and adults love! It’s rich, moist, chocolaty and super flavorful, with the most delicious chocolate topping. It’s super quick and easy to make and requires no mixer to make!

Chocolate Birthday Cake

This chocolate birthday cake recipe is my favorite to make for celebrations. I’ve tested many chocolate cakes in the past few years, and keep coming back to this one. It’s easy to make, rich and full of deep chocolate flavor – plus, it’s topped with delicious chocolate frosting! Because I like to give you guys options, I give you two amazing frosting options: milk chocolate fudge frosting or chocolate ganache.

Chocolate Birthday Cake

How to make chocolate birthday cake

1) Make the cake

This recipe makes enough for a 9×13- inch pan, but for a large crowd like school classrooms or events, I double it and use a 12×16-inch pan (30×40 cm).

  1. Combine melted butter and milk. Set this aside to cool slightly while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
  2. Combine the dry ingredients. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, sifted cocoa powder, sugar and salt.
  3. Stir together the wet ingredients. Mix together the butter mixture, eggs and sour cream and mix until combined. Then, pour in hot water or coffee and whisk until smooth.
  4. Mix together. Gently pour the wet ingredients into the dries and gently mix together.
  5. Bake. Bake for 30-35 minutes at 350°F/180° until a skewer or toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool completely before frosting.

2) Make the chocolate topping

I like to use one of these frosting options for this cake:

  • Milk chocolate fudge frosting This is my favorite frosting for a kid’s chocolate birthday cake. The addition of butter and powdered sugar give it a fudgy, creamy texture that is irresistible. When making the frosting just for adults, I like to add in some coffee granules for a mocha flavored frosting. It’s all up to your personal preference!
  • Chocolate ganacheThe perfect rich topping to complement the chocolate cake.

To make milk chocolate fudge frosting:

Place all the ingredients in a medium-sized saucepan over low-medium heat. Stir continuously until everything is melted and there aren’t any lumps. Let the frosting cool slightly for 10-15 minutes before spreading over the chocolate cake.

To make chocolate ganache:

Place the chocolate and heavy cream in a medium heat-proof bowl and microwave in 20-30 second intervals, stirring in between until melted. You can also do this over a saucepan of simmering water. Pour the ganache evenly over the cake.

Chocolate Birthday Cake

Tips for making chocolate birthday cake

-Don’t overmix your cake batter. Overmixing will create more gluten, which makes cakes more dense and tough. To avoid this, use a rubber spatula to mix the batter gently.

-Be careful not to overbake your cake. Overbaking can dry out the cake, so remove it from the oven as soon as a toothpick comes out clean.

-Use good quality chocolate for the frosting. The better quality the chocolate, the better the frosting will taste.

Chocolate Birthday Cake

How can I decorate my chocolate birthday cake?

Decorating cakes is by far the most fun part of making them! Feel free to garnish the top with sprinkles of your choice. You can also use colored royal icing or buttercream to pipe out “Happy Birthday.” Simple make a batch of either one and use food coloring to dye it whatever colors you like.

If you really want to dress up each slice of cake when you serve it, serve with a scoop of no churn vanilla ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream.

Chocolate Birthday Cake

Other birthday cake recipes

4.86 from 7 votes
Chocolate Birthday Cake
Chocolate Birthday Cake
Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 35 mins
Total Time: 50 mins
YIELD: 1 9×13 inch cake

This chocolate birthday cake is super moist, rich and decadent! Top with milk chocolate fudge frosting or creamy chocolate ganache for the ultimate cake.

  • 1 3/4 sticks (200g) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) milk
  • 1 3/4 cups (240g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2/3 cup (65g) cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 cups (300g) granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup (160 ml) sour cream
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) hot water or coffee (hot water mixed with 1-2 teaspoons instant coffee powder/granules)
Frosting Option 1: Milk Chocolate Fudge Frosting (great for kids)
  • 7 oz. (200g) milk chocolate
  • 7 tablespoons (100g) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 3/4 cup (90g) powdered sugar, optional (gives a more fudgy texture)
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (150 ml) heavy cream
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon instant coffee powder/granules , optional, for a mocha flavor
Frosting Option 2: Chocolate Ganache (great for adults)
  • 7 oz. (200g) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 3/4 cup (180 ml) heavy cream
To make the cake:
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F/180°. Grease a 9×13-inch pan. Set aside.
  2. Melt the butter, add milk and mix, then set aside to cool slightly.
  3. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, cocoa powder, sugar and salt. Add the butter mixture, eggs and sour cream to the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Add the hot water/coffee and whisk until smooth.

  4. Scrape batter into prepared pan. Bake cake for 30-35 minutes until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Avoid overbaking which will make the cake dry. Allow cake to cool completely on a wire rack.
To make frosting option 1:
  1. In a medium-size saucepan place all the ingredients. Warm it over low-medium heat, stir at all times, until the chocolate/butter is melted and there are no lumps. Let it cool slightly in the saucepan for 10-15 minutes.
To make frosting option 2:
  1. Place chocolate and heavy cream in a medium heat-proof bowl, and microwave in 20-30 second-intervals, stirring in between each interval, until melted. Alternatively, set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, stirring occasionally, until melted.
To frost the cake:
  1. Cover the cake evenly with the frosting. Add sprinkles, if desired. Refrigerate for 1 hour until set. Keep in the fridge.
  2. Cake can be kept in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 5 days. Serve at room temperature for the best texture.

Recipe Notes

Chocolate cake recipe is adapted from Call Me Cupcake. Milk chocolate fudge frosting recipe adapted from Passion for Baking.

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  • Reply
    April 28, 2021 at 5:59 pm

    Do you use dutch process cocoa or regular cocoa here? Thank you.

    • Reply
      May 2, 2021 at 1:49 pm

      Hi Mel, you can use either one but I prefer Dutch process cocoa.

    • Reply
      January 1, 2023 at 9:40 pm

      This is literally the best chocolate cake I have ever had. And I have had a few. Will always use this recipe. Outstanding!

      • Reply
        Talia @ Pretty. Simple. Sweet.
        January 2, 2023 at 2:22 am

        Thank you, Leslie! I’m so glad you enjoyed the recipe 🙂

  • Reply
    May 14, 2021 at 3:31 am

    Hello Shiran.
    Just tried this cake and I love it! I have tried many of your recipes with great success. My family loves semolina cakes so much- do you like them too? If yes, it would be so great if you could devise a recipe! Thank you so much and keep safe with your family.

    • Reply
      May 25, 2021 at 2:22 pm

      Hi Kaushal, I’m really glad you enjoyed the recipes! Thank you for the compliment 🙂 I haven’t made semolina cakes in quite some time but I will keep this in mind for the future.

  • Reply
    May 15, 2021 at 5:00 am

    Hello Shiran,
    That’s a lovely cake indeed. Was wondering if sour cream is necessary or could we replace it with something else like thick strained curd ? Would appreciate your reply. Thanks so much.

    • Reply
      May 25, 2021 at 2:24 pm

      Hi Shwetal, thank you so much! I prefer this cake made with sour cream but you can substitute buttermilk if you’d like.

  • Reply
    May 27, 2021 at 1:06 pm

    Hi Shiran! This one looks amazing. But my kiddo doesn’like the strong falvor of cocoa powder, can I use melted chocolate instead?

    • Reply
      June 11, 2021 at 4:44 am

      Hi Andrea, unfortunately, cocoa powder and melted chocolate aren’t interchangeable in cake recipes. But you can use a bit less cocoa powder if you’d like, although I think this is a great chocolate cake for kids because it doesn’t have an overpowering cocoa powder taste – it just tastes like chocolate 🙂

  • Reply
    June 12, 2021 at 10:48 pm

    Can this recipe be used for cupcakes?

    • Reply
      August 12, 2021 at 4:52 am

      Yes 🙂

  • Reply
    June 13, 2021 at 9:52 am


  • Reply
    June 28, 2021 at 12:59 am

    HI! Do you think this recipe would work well baked into cupcakes?

    • Reply
      Talia @ Pretty. Simple. Sweet.
      July 7, 2021 at 2:07 pm

      Hi Sara, this recipe would work for cupcakes, as well. However, you can also check out my Ultimate Chocolate Cupcakes for my tried and true chocolate cupcake recipe 🙂

  • Reply
    September 28, 2021 at 6:34 am

    Very informative

  • Reply
    Amy Kaiser
    October 24, 2021 at 9:55 pm

    Used 1:1 Gluten Free flour and it was fantastic! You’d never even know it was GF. Fabulous recipe. We used the option 1 frosting, it was lively to not have to bring out the kitchen-aid or hand mixer for this. Delicious!

  • Reply
    November 16, 2021 at 12:59 am

    Thank you so much for this fantastic recipe . I was looking for a chocolate cake recipe for my 5 year old and this turned out great. I substituted sour cream with vanilla yoghurt and it was good. Loved the kids frosting option. I enjoyed it myself 🙂 will be making this for sure next week on her special day

  • Reply
    Michele Bandler
    December 30, 2021 at 9:29 pm

    I hadn’t made that many chocolate cakes from scratch, but I was determined to do so for my partner’s milestone birthday gathering. I made this cake exactly according to the recipe and it turned out absolutely delicious!! Chocolatey , very moist, and just sweet enough. I chose to ice it with a simple vanilla buttercream frosting and put sprinkles on it as in this recipe. The whole family was together for the weekend and it was nearly all eaten up. Thank you for my go-to recipe for chocolate cake!

  • Reply
    January 12, 2022 at 9:20 am

    Can I make this in regular cake pans? How would I adjust the cooking time?

  • Reply
    April 21, 2022 at 4:54 pm

    Hi Shiran, can this recipe be made ahead of time and frozen? I’d then defrost it for icing. Thanks! Kate

    • Reply
      Talia @ Pretty. Simple. Sweet.
      April 24, 2022 at 6:55 am

      Hi Kate, yes this cake freezes great. Just be sure to double wrap all layers with plastic wrap to prevent freezer burn.

  • Reply
    July 9, 2022 at 1:42 pm

    What brand are the sprinkles used here?

  • Reply
    December 4, 2022 at 7:33 am

    Hey Shiraz! Have tried a lot of your other recipes but not this one. Can I use this to make a two-layer cake?

    • Reply
      Talia @ Pretty. Simple. Sweet.
      December 5, 2022 at 3:52 am

      Hi Priya, yes absolutely. This recipe makes enough for 2 8-inch round cake pans with some batter leftover, or 2 9-inch round cake pans that will make slightly shorter cakes. Only fill the pans up to 3/4 of the way full. You can also check out my article on converting pan sizes for more info and details on how to precisely convert cake pan sizes! 🙂

      • Reply
        December 5, 2022 at 4:51 am

        Thanks! And would a simple layer of chocolate ganache between the layers work?

        • Reply
          Talia @ Pretty. Simple. Sweet.
          December 5, 2022 at 6:01 am

          Yes absolutely 🙂

        • Reply
          Intan Donaher
          February 2, 2023 at 10:20 pm

          Just make it now, follow all recipe, out of oven,mine is crack very big in the middle, bake 180c in middle of oven. What possibility l do wrong?

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